There is a shortage in drivers within the trucking industry and according to conservative estimates, this shortage is nearing 50,000 drivers nationwide. One way that companies are attempting to fill this gap is through the capable, but largely untapped segment of the workforce: professional female drivers.
Historically, women haven’t driven trucks professionally. Today, women make up about 6% of the truck driving industry—but this isn’t because women can’t do it. While time away from home may be a common deterrent, sometimes women simply don’t “feel welcome” in the field of professional truck driving.
Surveys and interviews reveal that women haven’t considered a career in trucking due to the perception that “trucking is for men.”
For whatever reason, the trucking industry has been aligned with masculinity; therefore, for women, the thought of pursuing a career in trucking is often associated with fears of harassment, discrimination based solely on gender, and other safety concerns as well. These negative associations can make it difficult for women drivers to envision themselves having a successful career in trucking, but that perception is changing—both within the industry, and from the outsider’s point of view as well.
Consider these interesting points:
- Pay discrepancy between male and female drivers is non-existent, as truck drivers are paid by the mile or by the load.
- Newer models of semi-trucks make it easier for lighter-weight operators to perform just as well as drivers who are physically larger or stronger, including easier-to-operate automatic transmissions, as well as other ergonomic modifications to accommodate a wider variety of drivers in the cab.
- Female drivers have roughly a 25% lower accidental cost, meaning the accidents they do have cost less to fix—because of this reduction in operating cost, some companies are specifically seeking out female drivers.
While the shortage in truck drivers is approaching the 50K mark, as mentioned above, that number is also estimated to nearly quadruple by the year 2025 due to the projected number of retiring baby boomer drivers combined with an increase in demand caused by a recovering economy.
The trucking industry is taking note of the problems on the horizon and is striving to make truck-driving careers more appealing to women, both today and in the future. While some fleet operators are increasing pay and/or using 401(k) as a means of attracting new drivers, some companies, like Carter Express, are going as far as offering tuition subsidy or reimbursement to help attract this untapped section of the labor force.
Here are two resources specifically for women in, or wishing to get into the trucking industry: